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Curly Nikki

Are We Being Duped?- Organic Hair Products

By January 27th, 202113 Comments

Are We Being Duped?- Organic Hair Products
Shirley W., a reader, shared a very interesting article she came across yesterday.

“Consumer groups warn that when it comes to organic cosmetics and personal care products, you may not get what you expect. ‘It’s the Wild West out there,’ says one industry expert.”

Are you an avid organic cosmetic consumer? Although I’m by no means a die-hard ‘all natural’ girl, I have been known to purchase random conditioners from Whole Foods and Vitamin Shoppe just because they tout ORGANIC on the label. Of course, these same conditioners usually cost $10 for an 8oz size bottle…but deep in my heart, I feel that it must be worth it! Usually, the product is a bust and must be returned or given away 🙁

I do, however, (when I’m not in a hurry) take the time to read the label for suspicious ingredients. And more times than not, I’m sad to say, organic conditioners contain ingredients they should not have! According to the article:

“If you see a product that’s labeled organic but it doesn’t have the USDA Organic seal, do your homework. Check the ingredients and decide whether this product meets your expectations of organic.”

So what do you think? Are we being exploited? What measures should we take (or info should we arm ourselves with) before heading out to market? Should we forget the Organic labels, and just simply buy products that work for us?


  • Anonymous says:


    I want to thank Curly Nikki for her blog and everyone for posting on this issue. I agree that research is key and look up the ingredients online. Personally, I tend to purchase organic ingredients and make my own concoctions because most organic brands are not completely organic. I also use products that pass my research test to ensure my health. As I get older, I am more conscious of what I put in and on my body. If you live in CA, I look for the QAI label for organic ingredients and CA Organics Food Act (CAFO) of 1990 to ensure products are organic. In regards to USDA organic label, the Dr. Bronner's company re-filed in Nov. 2009 to stop companies that use horrible ingredients from being issued organic labels. I also try to look for the fair trade label, and do the best I can to be a conscious consumer. I can't stress enough the importance of researching the ingredients in products and not trusting the label. I hope this helps all of you as much as it has helped me. Live, Love, & Peace! ~ Sweetsop

  • Cygnet says:

    I'm visually impaired, and ingredients are printed in very small print on packages. Unless I can pick up a package big enough that the size of the print will go up in correlation to the size of the package, reading all the ingredients is not always an option for me.

    The most recent products I've purchased for use in my hair were purchased at Whole Foods, which is known to be a store that sells natural/organic products. I trust that if I picked it up from there, at least half the ingredients are going to be natural or organic. They cost me considerably more than would comparable sizes of a different brand in a different type of store, but for what these products do for me, I'm willing to shell out the money to get them again.

    For me, if it doesn't harm me, it does for me what I need it to do, and I can afford it, I'll buy it. Many people will pay more for something they are told is better in some way: "all natural", "green", "organic", "used by the stars", etc. These are all meant to convey prestige in its latest form. Prestige not being a tangible, however, I work diligently to delete the cost of it from anything I buy.

  • Sheena LaShay says:

    Some people are definitely victioms of greenwashing.

    However, we shouldn't put a false sense of safety in labels either. First of, just because a products says its organic, doesn't neccesarrily means that it is.

    Secondly, there are many organic products…that don't have the "organic" label of approval.

    Just like a building could have a LEED code meaning the state has said it us up to standards in business sustainability, there are also many building built without that LEED code that have HIGHER standards and are sustainable.

    So, "organic" is a label but you can also have organic things that haven't been stamped with certain approvals.

    I'm not sure if this makes any sense. I hope it does.

  • Renee says:

    I agree w/ Ann. I read the back of everything before I buy and I research online as well. Cosmetic Database, by the Environmental Working Group, has lists of products with all their ingredients, and descriptions of how hazardous they are.

  • ann says:

    I worked in a health food store and we sold either all natural or organic products. We were generally very savvy when stocking the shelves, but there's something all consumers need to know. A company essentially has to BUY the usda organic sticker. Thar's why it's on many of the more well known labels–they can afford it. We had plenty of products made locally that WERE organic yet didn't have the usda sticker–they couldn't afford it.

    The usda organic sticker also doesn't mean a product is necessarily 100% organic. So it goes both ways. You have to know what you're buying, you have to read the fine print and be able to recognize ingredients.

    @savvybrown, there are natural and organic sources for bad ingredients too. You can get parabens from blueberries. Petroleum is natural too, comes right out of the ground! ^__^

    I'm a card carrying crunchy hippy granola girl (with great hair and fashion sense). I'm tired of people being lazy (or unaware) about what they put in and on their bodies. Don't expect the government to do it for you. A sticker, though helpful, is no guarantee of anything. I'm also tired of "being green" as the new trend. It should be how you live your life, not a way to impress the neighbours. All companies have to do these days is throw some leaves on the packaging and everyone will eat it up. *sigh*

  • ThisOwl says:

    this false advertising has been going on for a long time…be smart and read every single word on your product labels! these same products may contain some organic ingredients but everything in the product is definitely not natural. And that does not make the product organic.

  • says:

    The government does not regulate cosmetics. At least in the form of if ingredients are completely natural or organic. In fact, there is no law or threshold, legally, that a cosmetic brand has to meet to put the "organic" stamp on it.The only way to know if it is absolutely organic is to make it yourself.

  • savvybrown says:

    I am definitely a "naturalista" who reads EVERYTHING and I try really hard to use products with as few ingredients as possible. Everything these days has a "green" "eco" or "organic" label on it. I very recently was sent a few products for my blog which actually have "Natural" TWICE in the name, that were full of sulfates, cones, and all kinds of icky stuff! 🙁 Trust no one.

    – savvy

  • Hair and Beyond says:

    Thanks for the info 🙂

  • BeautyXchangeGirl says:

    First, I love your blog. I've been a reader for a long time now but I believe this is my first comment. 🙂 This is a very interesting article. I'm not a die hard organics hair care consumer however I have purchased organic hair care lines, and yet I do still use many hair care products that are not organic or have natural ingredients on my transitioning hair. At the end of the day, it's definitely deceptive for a brand to claim to be organic without validating so with the USDA symbol; thus they should be made aware of their false advertising and encouraged to relabel their products. As consumers however, I think we should do our own due diligence as well by researching ingredients that we are unfamiliar with or concerned about. Lastly, each person's head of hair is different so organic or inorganic products may both work, so the ulimate decision is personal choice. Really liked this post and Congrats on all your successes Niki. 🙂

  • Lori says:

    I'm not sold on "organic" because I've read similar accounts and seen the story covered from various angles on TV news. However, I am a "100% natural" or "pure" cosmetic shopper. I look for natural products because I've discovered that products with various chemicals in them (found commonly in daily products such as shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, etc.) have an adverse effect on my skin and hair. I can totally tell the difference with my skin and hair since changing products that contain methylisothiazolinone, sulfates, etc. That's the only change I've made…not diet, not exercise and my hair is not falling out anymore, the dandruff/dry scalp is gone, the itching and irritation, etc.

    So, "natural" products convince me, not necessarily "organic" products. I'm lucky to live in a community where there are all-natural stores and educators on these products. I am confident that my purchases are safe and as described on the labels.

    I think the organic movement started well, however, when it drifted over into cosmetics the goal seems to be to snare uneducated people into spending gobs of money on falsely advertised products.

  • LittleOne says:

    Organic food and products are much more complex than people realize. Check out this USDA Organic fact sheet…

    Basically, some products may even have the USDA Organic seal and not be completely organic. I think we should use the products that work for us, period. Obviously, there are a lot of very effective 100% pure, natural products that may not be "organic"…like black soap, pure castor oil, pure EVCO and EVOO, etc.

    I really only seek out organic food, not products.

  • CORE CHANGE CINCINNATI:Sustainability Growing with the Flow says:

    Very interesting article, I alway take notice to cosmetic products that claim to be organic. I have become 100% organic when it comes to organic foods and products and only use items that I recognize. I even attempt to google every ingredient (time consuming). I think that we should hold the stores who claim to offer organic and natural products accountable. If they display the certified seal of approval (USDA Organic Seal) on the front window of the store, then we as consumers should trust that every product that we purchase with our hard earned money is organic and/or natural. I say report any findings to the BBB for false advertisment. Just a thought.

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